CatH Post 84 marks the beginning of Chapter Three for Clear and the Hopeless with The World of Tomorrow. The Hopeful arrives at the Cosmic Nullius, which is a truly epic construct that encompasses a star and several planets within it. The Hopeful passes through the outside shell and to its interior where they find the a concave world of towns, cities, lakes and oceans. They leave The Hopeful docked with the planet-port dubbed The Garage and travel to the Cosmic Nullius proper. After traversing the manufactured land they leave Ambassador Uppity Bags at the Saturn Embassy which is part of the greater grounds dedicated to the Earth Embassy. Clear's group then continued on, using a teleporter and a monorail to get to the Jupiter Embassy so that Admiral Ltexi could announce her return to the Jovian Ambassador.


Chapter Three

Clear and the World of Tomorrow

The Hopeful lurches out of Tartarus like a drunk hippo. It slowly drifts away from its appearance point, as though it is trying to sober up its brain enough to figure out where it is.

Before the ship is the largest structure any person onboard has ever seen. Well over five hundred times the surface area of Earth or Mars, this megastructure wraps around a star, with just four narrow strips in its form to reveal that bright, yellow light within. It was marked out by the former asteroid belt that once surrounded this particular star before the colossal sphere was built. From the outside, the cosmic shield makes the sphere look like a very, very big marble.

The Hopeful is seven hundred miles long, larger than the majority of spacecraft out there, and yet it is a pinprick against the Cosmic Nullius. The Hopeful steers towards one of the four gaps that, while small on the sphere itself, are wide enough to allow a few planets through. As they draw nearer, guidance locks are activated and The Hopeful is given guidance to access the Cosmic Nullius on autopilot.

Mother: "Why do they call it autopilot when it is I that must steer?"

Clear: "I am really not prepared to get into an ethical discussion with you right now, Mother."

The two salmittons are standing in a long room that Ltexi introduced them to. She calls it the observatory. Clear just calls it the lounge. It's an incredibly long room that is made significant because it juts out from the hull of the ship in a glass encasement to observe the wondrous field of stars beyond. Now the field of view is taken up by the sphere. Clear gulps a drink of gin and tonic. It's only a small dash of gin but it's enough to calm her nerves. Plus it's gin brewed on Saturn and she isn't about to waste it.

The Hopeful reaches the gap, like a gigantic gate to mark the passage from the wilds of space to civilisation. On either side of the lounge windows the metal carapace ends with tall structures that can only be dwellings. Trees and other plants grow as much for decoration as for their oxygen-producing abilities. Once inside they're able to see the land is covered in green fields, towns, cities, lakes, and even oceans. The land curved right round the inside of the sphere, facing the bright, yellow star at its heart. There Clear can see several planets actually still reside within their original orbit around the star, along with their own moons. Yet there is no darkness of space, only the haze of blue atmosphere that forever makes up the sky. There is no night here, only the eternal daylight.

The Hopeful is guided towards one of the planets, as it slowly makes its way around the star. As they near Clear realises that the whole world is covered in cityscape. Unlike the land below, the planet has no greenery; it is function only. Information requests come through and Clear opts to leave The Hopeful in orbit around the planet, while they travel down to the cityscape in a shuttlecraft.

Uppity Bags: "Now that is a magnificent sight!"

The lanky G-Krypton walks into the room, his long legs striding languidly. He gazes out of the the window with amazement. Clear is in awe of what she sees and she has seen much more than Uppity Bags has ever dreamt of. She can only imagine how he must feel seeing this.

Clear: "Are you ready to go? I'll be taking us down in a shuttle. The information board tells us we'll be teleported down to the Cosmic Nullius from there."

Uppity Bags: "A whole planet just for transportation? The mind boggles."

Clear: "Officially the whole planet is just designated as Port. But in the notes it's usually referred to as the Garage. So yes. A whole planet just for transportation and parking."

Uppity Bags: "I actually feel... a little queasy..."

Clear: "Uh oh. Mother, do you have any sick bags?"

With The Hopeful, and its remora fish The Unbroken, orbiting the Garage, Clear piloted everyone down aboard the Bug. From their docking bay it was a short walk to the transporter room where some friendly staff checked their certificates, passports, and identities. They were then given badges and documents to take with them and transported down to the Cosmic Nullius sphere.

Clear is wearing a loose-fitting, white onesie with a simple blush sash around her waist and a thin neckerchief tied limply around her neck. In an incredibly rare display she has unfastened her long hair from its usual braid and to reveal just how long her wavy, white locks actually are. Green keeps staring at Clear's hair as though its an alien attached to the salmitton's skull.

Green is wearing a pretty, little summer dress of yellow with a blue floral pattern pasted onto it. She has a pair of very simple, white sandals on her feet and, along with the straw hat atop of her green hair, she looks set for a trip to the beach.

Green: "Look! You can see the land going up!"

In the distance they could indeed see the land going up towards the sky where it would then eventually disappear from view in the blue haze of the atmosphere. Every single person in the group experiences vertigo and they decide to take a break to try and get used to this new world. Uppity Bags throws up into a paper sick bag. At least Clear came prepared for it this time.

do'Ziikin: "It really is something... In all my travels never, ever have I seen anything so spectacular. Before I came here I rated Outpost Finangle as the greatest manufactured wonder in the galaxy. Sorry to the outpost but it's now downgraded to number two..."

The drow gets up from the bench where they have been sitting and stretches his arms wide to bring some life back into them after their long rest.

do'Ziikin: "Then again, the last time I was there was a couple of lifetimes ago. I hadn't even awoken then. I was like a fresh-brained idiot child, eager to run away from my mother."

Green: "Why did you want to run away from your mother!? Wasn't she worried about you?"

do'Ziikin grins.

do'Ziikin: "Probably! But all she wanted me to do was settle down as a husband for some old noble woman. I wasn't prepared to be treated like a prize to be given away. So I left with a bunch of humans and never regretted it."

Clear: "All praise our masters and overlords, the human race..."

do'Ziikin: "Your sarcasm might be so heavy you'll drop off of this station..."

Green: "No!"

Green grabs Clear's hand.

Clear: "He's joking, Green. You can't fall off."

Green: "I-I know that..."

Despite her words, she still clutches Clear's hand as though she might suddenly start to float away. Dhaeriend do'Ziikin has ditched his previous outfit in favour of a more conservative getup in a simple white shirt and khaki trousers. He has a trilby on his head.

Clear: "You are the weirdest drow I've ever met."

do'Ziikin: "Probably because I'm the most well travelled. I kind of have a reputation for it now, after all these generations."

Uppity Bags: "You said something similar a moment ago. What do you mean by generations and lifetimes?"

Clear groans.

Clear: "Please no religion..."

do'Ziikin: "Well, since you asked Mr Ambassador, I shall tell you! Ignore the naysayer, she doesn't know what she's talking about--"

Clear: "Oh! Would you look at the time! We have to go!"

Clear hops to her feet and starts marching off with Green in tow. Drawn by their intrepid leaders departure poor Dhaeriend is cut off from his explanation with a mere 'tell us later' from the Krypton ambassador.

They walk along a path that overlooks a long river of incredibly blue water. Clear is certain it's no ordinary water. Water is never that blue. A boat drifts along it, the water cutting at its prow with a bright, luminous glistening that looks like magic to Clear. The boat is tall and red and filled with tourists and revellers. Above the boat fly several creatures that look like airborne stingrays, their mouth and nostrils looking like a cute little face - while their true eyes reside atop of the creature. They make chirruping noises, somewhere between a tweet and a mumbling baby. The most commonly used plant is a white bell shaped flower that has a coconut like fragrance. The flowers are very big, the size of Clear's hand, and hang from small trees arranged upon decorative tiers like a layer cake. From the directions given to the group, they head along the riverside until they reach a new transporter. The transporters here all connect to just one other pad, keeping things simple but requiring some footwork on behalf of residents.

They pass by a small spaceport where they see a rocket that is bound for the opposite side of the Cosmic Nullius. Its route would take it around the inner planets and past the star to the other side. Clouds hang over the spaceport with the obvious intention of raining down on the concave world. Fortunately Clear's group is quick enough to avoid getting caught out in it. Above the clouds Clear can see two of the inner planets against the blue sky. The Port lurks like a black, ominous plate that slides across the sunlight. She thinks she can just make out the ring of orbiting capital ships around it, where her own would be sailing in the long line. Another planet floats further off but she can see that it is coloured blue like the atmosphere of the Cosmic Nullius, suggesting that it has its own natural ecosystem instead of being coated in a cityscape like the Garage is. With its single, white moon, the planet reminds Clear of Earth. Maybe that makes the Garage the equivalent of Mars. Seems pretty accurate.

Lumo, taking a break from The Unbroken, toddles along after the group, usually falling behind until they wait for him to catch up. He seems to be happier than Clear has seen him since she returned to the Milky Way and for that reason alone she thinks this trip was a good choice. When they reach the teleporter Clear encourages him to go first, along with Green and Ambassador Bags. The three of them dematerialise upon the pad and vanish. Clear steps up next, along with Admiral Ltexi and Rui-Rho. She feels light-headed, like she is suddenly drunk, and then the world around her dematerialises. She knows it is actually her that was dissolved, but to her it seemed like the world had done so.

When the world reappears a moment later she steps gingerly off of the teleporter pad. She doesn't like the sensation of it very much but at least Uppity Bags hasn't thrown up again. The signal light on the pad turns from red to green when the three of them got off of it. A moment later and it turned red, indicating that the other pad is occupied. They begin to walk on, expecting that the rest of the group will catch up. Ltexi is wearing her old outfit, a smart militaristic jacket with tall, knee high boots and then nothing but a pair of knickers. When Green expressed an interest in wearing the same clothes, Clear quickly shut down that idea. Ltexi had decided it would be best to wear her original military uniform to better exert her case to the Jupiterian ambassador when they meet her. As the admiral walks, her boots resound loudly against the stone floor and her hand trails along the railing along the promenade.

Clear: "What do you want to do, Dhae? Will you leave us when we get to the Saturn consulate? Or do you want us to take you to the Caledonian embassy?"

do'Ziikin: "The longer I can put off going there, the better. But I don't want to be left with the boring old Kryptons--"

He hastily adds towards Uppity Bags;

do'Ziikin: "--no offence meant, of course."

Uppity Bags: "Hmm? What?"

Relieved that Uppity Bags hadn't even heard the remark the drow just shakes his hand toe dismiss his comment to the Krypton and resumes talking to Clear.

do'Ziikin: "So I'll tag along with you and yours, if that's alright by you? I hear you're off to see the Jovian ambassador? I think I'd be interested to see what's going on over there."

Lumo: "They may think you are a drow spy..."

Lumo smirks.

do'Ziikin: "A spy that wanders up to the front door and says hello? What kind of spy would I be, huh?"

Lumo: "Unless that's exactly what you want us to think?"

do'Ziikin: "Wow. How cunning I apparently am."

Pully: "You are a drow. Can't be trusted."

do'Ziikin: "And what did a drow ever do to you, human? Am I to be punished for the crimes of another drow? Because all drow are the same, right?"

Pully: "Well--!"

Pully glances at Clear with a sudden mask of guilt and silences herself. Clear frowns, thinking she must have been about to make a remark that would have offended her just as much as Dhaeriend. Pully might like Clear and be fine with most aliens but Clear has noticed that she occasionally has something of a racist attitude towards certain peoples or the concept of 'aliens' in general. Something from her upbringing in a society dominated by the Galactic Empire. Clear lets it slide. She's enjoying the atmosphere and doesn't want to go punishing her friend for every mistaken comment.

Pully is, again, without her armour. Clear thinks this is for the best lest she be mistaken as a citizen of the empire in such a politically charged environment. Instead she's wearing an angular suit of black with a white cravat. She has suit trousers on, coloured white, and a pair of simple, heeled boots. To Clear she looks like she belongs in an office. She's even wearing glasses - albeit glasses of red laser glass. She's wearing a very small, compact and fashionable PIP that is no bigger than a watch, while Clear is still wearing her big, bulky PIP machine.

The consulate for Saturn is a large white building that, on Earth, would have looked colonial in style. It has many balconies with short, wooden railings and all of the walls are white-washed. The windows are all glass and transparent except some of the windows upstairs which are completely black. Clear guesses that is how they shut out the permanent daylight when it comes time to sleep. Uppity Bags bids his farewell to the group and his thanks to Captain Clear before he turns and enters his consulate. The grounds where the consulate stands belongs within the Earth's embassy estate as the Kryptons have signed up under Earth's banner. As they walk around the consulate they can see the Earth embassy further back. It looks much the same as the Saturn consulate but it's coloured eggshell blue. Outside it Clear can see some humans milling about. She knows she'll probably have to come back here at some point but for now she's keen to avoid the place.

She hurries away and the others are left having to quicken their own pace to keep up with her.

They must take a fast-speed monorail to get to the Jovian embassy faster and when they reach the estate they find there's a few consulates upon their estate, representing different significant worlds within the faction's domain. Ltexi points to three consulates which have been built close together and refers to them as the Jovian Block, a trio of worlds that have been coordinating together against the rest of the empire for centuries even in Ltexi's original time.

Ltexi: "In a way it's comforting to see some things never change..."

The Jovian buildings are much bigger than the Earth's, built from carved stone and built up in the classical Jupiterian style. They do have some brightly coloured motifs to adorn the buildings, something Ltexi distresses at thinking it an insult to her sensibilities, and their roofs are sharply peaked. The smallest building is actually a church to Marduk and not a consulate at all. Above its door is a large statue of the Marduk god, it having an enormous human head but the body of a duck. Clear thinks the mythological beast looks like nightmare fuel.

The primary embassy is much larger than the other consulates, dwarfing them all, and stands with three massive towers. Its doors are huge and constantly open. In the garden before it is a big globe that slowly rotates above a pool. They stop and look at it.

Clear: "It really was an ugly planet though."

Ltexi gives Clear a shove.

Clear: "Haha, hey it's not my fault it's the colour of shi--"

Green: "Wheeeeeee!!"

Green runs off towards the door. It takes Rui-Rho a moment to follow suit and gives her own, somewhat more robotic, exclamation of delight as she runs after the human.

Rui-Rho: "Wheee!!"

Lumo: "They'll probably get themselves arrested before long..."

do'Ziikin: "Because we're all spies round here, right?"

Ltexi: "Hopefully there's a shoot on sight policy. Let's wait here and see."

Clear: "Ltexi!"

Ltexi: "I'm just joking, relax. I've gotten used to having that Rho-bot doing all my laundry for me."

Clear: "Seriously? You've been taking advantage of the poor thing?"

Ltexi: "She likes it!"

Clear shakes her head disapprovingly.

Pully: "I'm surprised they built a building for Jupiter since, you know, it doesn't exist now..."

There's a deathly silence and Pully realises she has probably just broken a nerve. Ltexi speaks, without turning to look at Pully;

Ltexi: "The queendom still belongs to Jupiter, whether the world is here or not. We are Jupiterian in our hearts."

There's a long pause as they walk towards the building.

Pully: "You know there's no queen now, right?"

Another nerve touched and Ltexi grits her teeth.

Ltexi: "We'll see about that..."

Kara Pashna, who has been very quiet during the whole trip, pipes up suddenly;

Kara Pashna: "Well, I think this will be very interesting!"

Clear looks at him.

Clear: "That's an understatement. 'Hello, I was frozen in time a hundred years ago. What's new?'"

Ltexi: "You know what, Clear? That's exactly what I'm going to say."

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